Monthly Archives: February 2011

Torres move perfect tonic for Chelsea and Liverpool

So Chelsea finally bagged their main target, a proven European goalscorer, in Spain’s Fernando Torres for a hefty £50 million on the final day of the January transfer window; but, for both the London club and his former employers, Liverpool, it was money well spent.

Torres’ move to the Premier League champions should come as no surprise, what with the former Atletico Madrid man, who left his hometown for Merseyside in search of trophies, yet to win any silverware in a barren four-year spell at Anfield. Add to the equation no Champions League this season (and possibly next as well), a player with Torres’ ability – a European and World Cup winner with Spain – must surely be competing for football’s most coveted prizes.

One former Liverpool teammate of Torres, Luis Garcia, told BBC Five Live in January it was only right Torres and Liverpool should part company: “Torres left Atlético looking for trophies and titles and he has not achieved any of them and maybe it is time to think about it [a move],” adding,” “Liverpool are in a position where they are struggling in the league and maybe with all the changes they have done it is a good moment [to leave].” And, unfortunately, with the sudden downfall at Liverpool these past 12 months, Chelsea’s offer was too good to turn down for their beloved El Nino who took only 84 games to reach 50 goals at Liverpool, the quickest in the club’s history.

The closest Liverpool came to winning their first Premiership trophy was in 2009 when, despite being favourites at one stage towards the end of the season, they were piped to it by Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United by four points. Since then, the departures of two key figures from that team, Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid and Javier Mascherano to Barcelona without being replaced properly, has to many unsurprisingly coincided with Liverpool falling off the forever demanding top four pace, making Torres question where his future should lie.

Chelsea’s gain, however, should not be seen as Liverpool’s loss. Far from it. The London side’s season has not gone according to plan, having looked far beyond their old reliable ways, particularly when they went to the Emirates in December when they were made to look, mainly by Theo Walcott’s pace, well, old. Torres’ arrival will come as a timely boost to boss Carlo Ancelotti and the team’s defence of their title, and will surely add greater potency in front of goal which has been severely lacking, as fans and it appears the club have become frustrated with the bit-part performances of their current strikers Nicolas Anelka and Salomon Kalou. Chelsea currently lie fourth in the league but, with the Spaniard now theirs, the Blues will feel quietly confident of overturning a nine-point margin with leaders Manchester United who they still need to play twice.

Liverpool, on their part, were right in accepting Chelsea chairman Roman Abramovich’s millions simply because Torres needed a new challenge and, right now, so do Liverpool. Failing to finish in the top four last season was a huge blow and has ultimately modified Liverpool’s priority. To get back to where the club feel they belong, they will need new and ambitious blood; the signings of Luis Suarez, the former Ajax star who made the headlines in South Africa for the right and sometimes wrong reasons, and Andy Carroll, a handful of a striker if ever there was one, which were funded by the sale of Torres, will add more hunger and desire to a historic English club that was in danger of going dangerously stale.

The sale of Torres could yet prove the makings of a new and prosperous chapter in Liverpool’s history. Yes, Liverpool still need to add to a squad lacking in numbers and quality, which is why the likes of Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, Stuart Downing and Blackpool’s captain Charlie Adam have all been linked with a summer move to Anfield. With Kenny Dalglish back in charge and doing, it seems, everything right to impress the owners, it is not so fanciful to think that that long awaited Premier League title may come sooner rather than later.

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Magic Moments

Maybe it’s just me, but what do you remember most from the 1973 FA Cup final between Don Revie’s all-conquering Leeds United against Second Division Sunderland ? The greatest double save ever, right? From Jimmy Montgomery? Lying on the floor, having seconds miraculously denied a Trevor Cherry header , the rebound fell kindly to Peter Lorimer to equalise, only Montgomery somehow managed to surpass that Gordon Banks’ Pele save with what has in some quarters been called a “Gordon bleeding Bennett!”

For those still wondering, Sunderland caused a major FA Cup upset and eventually won 1-0, thanks largely to a goal from Scotland’s Ian Porterfield coupled with Monty’s heroism between the sticks, which was to be The Black Cats’ only major trophy since before the Second World War.

Montgomery played over 500 games for his hometown club in North East England before having spells at Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham Forest, where he picked up a European winner’s medal despite not playing a single game. Monty, who unfortunately never had the honour of representing his country, retired in 1980 but was soon back in the game as a goalkeeping coach for both Birmingham City and Sunderland .

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In Defence of a “true English gent”: Kevin Phillips

"Sorry, the toilet is currently occupied by Master Kevin Mark Phillips I'm afraid Mr S. Gerrard".

 

Referees have it easy, dont they? They hover behind football managers who time and again find themselves awkwardly standing face-to-face with a journalist post-match having to explain another controversial decision made by those in black (sometimes blue, or green, occasionally orange) that has occurred on the pitch. Last night it was Birmingham City general Alex McLeish’s turn to do so and explain just why referee Kevin Friend awarded his side a 77th minute penalty – which Craig Gardner scored to make it 2-2 against Man City, which was the final score – after striker Kevin Phillips fell inside the box after a collision with Patrick Vieira.

In a situation like this, those in question can 1) provide an in-depth analysis of why it was a penalty by saying, “For me that is a penalty because Kevin turned Vieira, has flicked the ball past him, and Vieira has clattered into him”; 2) add a bit of rhetoric to your case, “How is that not a foul?”; and if that doesn’t work and you start to panic 3) say something irrelevant like that your player who was involved in the incident is some sort of a saint or, better still, that “He is a true English gent”.

McLeish, who by the way never lies because he is a true Scottish lad who eats haggis and drinks Im Bru while wearing a kilt, decided to use all three in his defence of Phillips. Because if you were still unsure as to whether he did in fact dive – which, i must add, i don’t – with the first two replies, surely, being told the accused wears a top hat, sips port, has good table manners and is an all-round courteous young fellow is all the proof you need to see that the man is innocent, I tell you!

Too bad Cesc Fabregas isn’t English, hey Wenger? Maybe you could try a true Spanish gentilhombre perhaps?

 

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